August 1, 2014

EDITORIAL: Edgerton should be embarrassed by its council

Somehow the Edgerton City Council isn’t embarrassed.

With one of the highest mill levy rates in the state, Edgerton officials are choosing not to lower it even though they’re sitting on a giant pot of cash worth $615,000 per year. A KCP&L power plant the city annexed will be on the tax rolls for next year’s $2.2 million general fund budget, and it’s property taxes make up almost a third of the city’s operating expenses.

The average home in Edgerton has an assessed valuation of $127,000, and pays an estimated $2,000 in property taxes per year. On average, too, Edgerton residents pay $13.30 per month or $159.60 per year for trash services. A subsidization of those services would lower that payment to $79.80 per year.

Instead of offering its citizens – who pay one of the highest mill levy’s in the state a tax break, Edgerton council members decided to subsidize a portion of citizens’ trash bills. That amounts to a $13.30 savings in trash collection fees each year.

Edgerton citizens should be appalled at their council for several reasons.

First, the decision is the council’s way of directly telling Edgerton residents: We know what is the best use of your money. We’ll go ahead and keep it and spend it in a way that’s far better than any way you decide.

And now, the subsidized trash service will be a line item in the Edgerton budget for years to come. The council will never be able to get away from subsidizing trash services. That means when trash rates go up, so will your property tax bills. It’s highly unusual for subsidies to be taken away once given.

Third, Heidi Wiseman told the council the trash deal gives everyone the same thing – rather than giving breaks to taxpayers based on their actual tax bills.

“Everybody across the board gets the same thing,” she said.

Council member Ken Gillespie expressed similar thoughts saying said he supported subsidized trash services, since that would be a savings that would be the same for all residents and not based on a home’s assessed valuation.

But those telling, socialist-sounding comments about spreading the wealth around weren’t nearly as telling as the comments of council member Jody Brown.

“If we lower the mill levy, we’ll get less from the KC Logistics Park,” he told council members during a July 15 work session.

And there Edgerton citizens have it. City administrator David Dillner promised that with the addition of the intermodal and logistics park to Edgerton tax rolls, citizens could look forward to a mill rate decrease in coming years. But – since the neighboring logistics park will receive a 75 percent tax abatement, the remainder of Edgerton taxpayers won’t be allowed to pay less on their tax bills if Brown has his way.

A tax decrease for Edgerton residents means the logistics park owners pay less, too.  And they’re already getting a 75 percent discount.

So, Edgerton residents are shackled with one of the state’s highest mill levies that won’t be decreasing on Brown’s watch – even with the addition of a power plant and a logistics hub that was specifically sold to residents as something that may lower the tax rate.

Edgerton council members may not be embarrassed by what transpired during their budget talks, but we’re embarrassed for them.

Comments

  1. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    The Gardner News need not be embarrassed for the Edgerton City Council due to the decisions they have made. It appears to me the residents that elected the current governing body are quite satisfied with allowing the Council to conduct city business any way they wish.

    Several times this year I have driven from my Gardner home to witness the Edgerton council meetings and work sessions which involved budget talks and BNSF Intermodal and KC Logistics Park discussions. Invariably, I have been astonished by the almost total absence of city residents in attendance. If I recall correctly, other than one meeting with maybe ten spectators, the audience has consisted only of one Edgerton resident, in addition to the actors and consultants dealing with the city officials and myself.

    With this lack of citizen involvement and debate, surely the Council must sense they have free reign to rule as an oligarchy and masters of Edgerton’s destiny, rather than performing as servants of the community.

    The subject of this editorial should have been, “Gardner News Embarrassed for Edgerton Residents.”

  2. Mr. Kellogg, were you here when the city of Gardner was wheeling and dealing on the intermodal project as they freely were in 2005 onward? Or did you have your rose colored glasses on as so many do and not see or want to see what was or is going on? There was a tremendous outcry from the people in 2006 here in Gardner stating they did not want the intermodal but did the worthless politicians listen to people??? They didn’t listen then and they don’t listen now and that is because they don’t work for the people of the area. I and others begged, cajoled, reasoned, gave research to them and on and on – no citizens could have done more to save their community from the mess that we will be living with and forced to pay high and higher taxes to enable these slimeballs.

    I agree the apathy of the people is not good but I certainly NOW know why some apathy exists. You don’t have a chance in a million of getting these worthless politicians to do the right thing because they don’t work for you. They could have done as Olathe did and said: No, Thank you – we can do better for our people. And not that Olathe is any better because every day they too sell their people down the river but in this one instance, I do believe they at least knew they didn’s want to be dealing with that intermodal mess.

    Mr. Kellogg, I believe you need to be looking at the proximate causes of problems and know your history – it would do all citizens good if they used some independent thinking and inform and educate themselves on issues so they at least could be making better choices of people to run for office and to support them.

  3. gardner2 says:

    Thank you Jerry, you make a fantastic point. The people are ultimately responsible for the decisions of their elected leaders. Everyone places false blame on business and enterprise in this country when it is the elected officials and the people who fail to monitor their actions that are to blame.

    People just don’t care or, I think better said they are just completely apathetic because they don’t know what to do. It is sad that we have come to this point. Even at the Gardner City Council meetings, it is the same people over and over who attend.

    People are responsible for their government!

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